A Publication of WTVP

The Heartland Partnership Annual Meeting took place on September 18th, and I am pleased to recognize the firms that received awards at our celebration. The Annual Meeting is an opportunity to demonstrate the progress made by the Heartland Partnership family of companies, but it is also a forum to showcase the firms and individuals in our region dedicated to growth, prosperity and community wealth. These winners are invaluable assets to the community, and it is a great honor for them to stand out in a region that is thriving economically.

The winner of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce’s Outstanding Small Business Award, 1-25 Employees, has been a Peoria fixture for nearly six decades. It is Peoria’s only AAA-approved auto service facility and the only shop with the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence. With a strong dedication to charitable work, Beachler’s Servicenter is a deserving winner for 2008’s award, sponsored by Busey Bank. Spotted Cow took home the Outstanding Small Business Award, 16-125 Employees, sponsored by Heartland Bank & Trust. Spotted Cow has been growing successfully for nearly 20 years, and its charitable activities include work with the Children’s Hospital, Easter Seals and the March of Dimes.

The Community Wealth Award, sponsored by CEFCU, recognizes an entity that contributes positively to the quality of life in our region. The Children’s Home Association of Illinois is this year’s winner, and their assistance to children in need is a tremendous asset for the Peoria area. The ATHENA Award, sponsored by National City, is given to a woman who displays outstanding achievement in her profession while working to better the community. This year’s award goes to Roberta Parks, Chief Operating Officer of the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce.

The Economic Development Council for Central Illinois awarded Supply Chain Services International (SCSI) with its Peoria County Growth and Innovation Award, sponsored by Heritage Bank. SCSI is a third-party logistics provider that has grown from two employees in 2001 to its current configuration of 150 employees at 11 facilities. Waite Equipment received the Tazewell County Growth and Innovation Award, sponsored by Morton Community Bank. A relatively new company headquartered in Pekin, Waite Equipment is a service firm operating worldwide that installs and repairs cranes, conveyers and other material-handling components. With a nine-acre facility and clients like Caterpillar and Komatsu, Waite Equipment is positively contributing to economic growth in the region.

Excelerate Campaign Update
In other news, the Excelerate campaign is advancing smoothly through its final stages of funding. An impressive collection of private firms and nonprofits have pledged support for the initiative, and we are now within the last few months of fundraising. Over $3 million has been raised so far, and additional donors are falling into place to help us reach our goal. However, more funding is still needed.

Excelerate is a five-year, $4 million growth initiative that will propel the Illinois Heartland from its status as a good community to an excellent one. Through an increase in business recruitment and expansion, focused action on infrastructure improvement, and national marketing of the area, Excelerate is aimed at capitalizing on our region’s strengths while establishing and solidifying our position as a top-10 community in the country in which to live and work.

While the Peoria region has made a great deal of progress over the last several years, we are positioned on the precipice of greatness, and it is imperative that we act with focus and determination. When it comes to economic development, inactivity leads to stagnation and eventual decay, so it is critical that we push forward and aspire to excellence. With our current business climate and robust workforce, the Heartland Partnership family of companies is poised to spur economic development, improve the business climate and productivity of the region, enhance the region’s image through marketing measures, and add vibrancy to the community. It is through Excelerate that these improvements will be facilitated.

If Excelerate is fully funded and implemented, 2,600 primary jobs will be created, and this will result in a total of 4,230 new jobs, over $200 million in new payroll earnings annually, $1 billion in new capital investment and an increase in nearly $500 million in increased sales tax revenue. These drivers of economic growth will help sustain us going forward, and they will draw talent to the region and help retain our skilled residents. The opportunity cost of not undertaking Excelerate is simply too high to ignore. When we have the chance to become a top-10 community in the country, we must step up to the plate and help the Peoria area live up to its enormous potential.

For more information or to invest in Excelerate, contact Kip McCoy at (309) 495-5925 or [email protected]. iBi